CensorshipMediaSocial media

The media’s drip-drip-drip technique for creating belief

In a recent profile of Jack Dorsey by Fast Company, I came across this:

Pressure has mounted on technology companies to cleanse their platforms of abuse and toxicity following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as it has become more apparent how much they were leveraged and manipulated for ill.

On the contrary, what has become apparent is how little technology companies were manipulated in the 2016 election, and how little effect it had. But the media will keep repeating this line over and over, despite all the evidence against, hoping that it will eventually become received wisdom.

We saw the same thing happen with the Iraq War. It’s received wisdom now, even across the right, that the Iraq War was a complete disaster. But it wasn’t. It’s too strong to say it was a success, but it wasn’t a failure. At least, if you think it was a failure, you need to argue that, and distinguish it from Obama’s own Middle East failures years later.

Anyway, during the war, and for a few years after it, the right-wing blogosphere was full of people poo-poohing the Iraq nay-sayers. And it’s not like all these people explicitly said at some stage that they’d reconsidered the evidence, and changed their mind. But the old drip-drip-drip feed worked its spell, and now every man and their dog sings from the same hymn-sheet on Iraq.

Possibly this intemperate rush to go to war with Syria will swing opinion back again on Iraq, but Iraq isn’t what I want to discuss here. What I’m claiming here is that the old saying, that if the media repeats a lie enough times eventually it becomes believed, is, to some degree — to enough of a degree — true, only not about the topics that most people usually think it’s true of.

And these lies about Facebook and Twitter are going to lead to further governmental power being used to shut down political opinion. So it’s vital that we stand up and say that the Russian Facebook story is garbage, that the idea that Russian Twitter bots swung the US election and the Brexit referendum is rubbish, and that we will not allow restrictions on free speech to be built on a tissue of lies. If we don’t say all that now then good luck trying to get any right-wing comment past the Facebook and Twitter bots in a few years time.

Social media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *